More than 15 million Americans are affected by some form of AMD. The number of Americans afflicted with macular degeneration is expected to double with the rapid aging of the U.S. population
New Mexico CentraSight team members include retina doctors John Pitcher, III, MD, Mark Chiu, MD and Kamalesh Ramaiya, MD, who coordinate the treatment; cornea surgeons Gregory Ogawa, MD and Kenneth Himmel, MD will perform the surgery at the Albuquerque Ambulatory Eye Surgery Center; and low-vision optometrist Michelle Cohen, OD and occupational therapist, Judy Deinema, will coordinate the post-surgical therapy for the patients.
Approximately 500 patients across the country have received the telescope implant to date, and the new team in New Mexico is one of 150 CentraSight teams in the U.S. No surgeries have been performed to date in New Mexico but local doctors are excited to bring this technology to their local communities.
“A substantial amount of work goes into screening and selecting the appropriate patients for this surgery. Prior to surgery, patients undergo extensive therapy, which trains their eye to use a telescopic magnifier. These patients also work closely with a low-vision specialist to help adapt to their new world after their surgery,” said Dr. John Pitcher with Eye Associates of New Mexico.
End-stage AMD results in a loss of central vision, or blind spot, and is uncorrectable by glasses, drugs or cataract surgery. This blind spot makes it difficult or impossible for patients to see faces, read, and perform everyday activities such as watching TV, preparing meals, and self-care.
The telescope implant has been demonstrated in clinical trials to improve quality of life for those with central vision loss in both eyes by improving patients’ vision so they can see the things that are important to them, increase their independence, and re-engage in everyday activities. It also may help patients in social settings as it may allow them to recognize faces and see the facial expressions of family and friends.
The telescope implant is FDA approved for patients age 65 and older, and is the only surgical option that improves visual acuity by reducing the impact of the central vision blind spot caused by end-stage AMD. The cost for the telescope implant and visits associated with the treatment program are Medicare eligible. Eligible candidates for the treatment must meet other indications for implantation as well. The device is integral to CentraSight (www.CentraSight.com), a comprehensive patient care program.
Smaller than a pea, the telescope implant uses micro-optical technology to magnify images which would normally be seen in one’s “straight ahead” or central, vision. The images are projected onto the healthy portion of the retina not affected by the disease, making it possible for patients to see or discern the central vision object of interest.
The telescope implant is not a cure for end-stage AMD. As with any medical intervention, potential risks and complications exist with the telescope implant. Possible side effects include decreased vision or vision impairing corneal swelling. The risks and benefits associated with the telescope implant are discussed in the Patient Information Booklet available at www.CentraSight.com.